Sunday, August 28, 2022

Cuba's foremost son Emilio Bacardi Moreau on the centennial of his death


Emilio Bacardi Moreau died 100 years ago today.

Emilio Bacardi Moreau was born in Santiago de Cuba on June 5, 1844, the son of Facundo Bacardí Massó, and after a life of entrepreneurship and patriotic service, he died 100 years ago today on August 28, 1922, of a heart ailment. He was 78 years old. The city of Santiago suspended all public events for two days to mourn and celebrate his life. He had been nicknamed “Cuba’s foremost son.”

Elements of the Cuban regime have tried to observe this anniversary and co-opt the Bacardi name, but the Bacardi family is the antithesis of the Castro family and Castroism in Cuban history through to the present day.

A history of the Bacardi family written by Tom Gjelten, a reporter for National Public Radio titled Bacardi and The Long Fight for Cuba :The Biography of a Cause  explored their role in Cuba's independence.  A 2008 review of the book in The New York Times by Randy Kennedy touches on the figure of Emilio Bacardi Moreau.

"Emilio Bacardi, especially, comes to life as the book’s most powerful character, though one so strange that Gabriel García Márquez might have invented him. Emilio was imprisoned twice by Spain off the coast of Morocco for his revolutionary activities. But he still managed to hold the company together, to serve as Santiago’s mayor during the unsettled years of the American occupation, to help found a salon called the Victor Hugo Freethinker Group, to practice
theosophy in a predominantly Catholic country and to track down a genuine mummy on a trip to Egypt, which he bought as the centerpiece for a museum he had founded in San­tiago."

His son Emilio Bacardi Lay actively took part in Cuba's war of independence. In 1895, he was a field officer for General Antonio Maceo during the invasion of Cuba by independence forces. He reached the rank of colonel by the age of 22.

Emilio Bacardi Lay ( Source: Cuba en la memoria )

In 1895, José Martí landed a boat just east of Santiago, beginning Cuba's second war of independence. Martí was soon killed in battle. Emilio Bacardi Moreau, who had taken the reins of the Bacardi company, was a disciple of Martí and took great risks during the wars of independence, resulting in his forced exile with his family, first on the isle of Chafarinas off the coast of Africa and then in Jamaica during the Ten Years War, and during the second war of independence.

Emilio Bacardi Moreau as a young man.

In contrast, Angel Castro, Fidel and Raul Castro's father fought for the Spanish crown against Cuban independence. Castro's father, Angel, according to the 2016 TV3 documentary, "Franco and Fidel: A Strange Friendship" had a photo of Francisco Franco on his nightstand.

During the Republic, the Bacardi family not only had enlightened business practices but also engaged in civic activities that promoted a Cuban democratic culture. Emilio Bacardi was the first democratically elected mayor of Santiago de Cuba. His reputation for honesty and public service led to his election to Cuba's national senate in 1906. This tradition continued in later Bacardi generations. Each time that a dictatorship arose in Cuba under Gerardo Machado in the 1930s, and later Fulgencio Batista in the 1950s, the Bacardis joined the democratic resistance. 

The Castro brothers emerged from the worst elements of political gangsterism to impose a dictatorship that has lasted 63 years. The new dictatorship illegally confiscated Bacardi's assets in Cuba on October 15, 1960, attempted to seize their licenses, and trademarks, but failed.

Bacardi Imports, Inc., re-established its headquarters in Miami in 1963 after having been based for a century in Santiago de Cuba. Emilio Bacardi Lay, who was born in Santiago de Cuba on June 12, 1877, died in exile in Miami on October 14, 1972 at the age of 95. He was the last surviving ranking officer from Cuba's war of independence with Spain.

On Francisco Franco's death in 1975, Fidel Castro decreed three days of mourning in Cuba for the Spanish despot, in an official decree rubber stamped by Cuban president Oswaldo Dorticós.

Bacardi in the diaspora would continue to make world class rum, to win awards for their quality, and expand as a business. They would also continue their traditions of service, enlightened stewardship of their company, and support for a democratic Cuba.

Biography of the Bacardi family by Tom Gjelten

This is the history that the Castro dynasty would like to erase or alter. 

Meanwhile, to all who read this please consider that if you wish to make a toast to freedom then do it with Bacardi.  


Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Black Ribbon Day 2022: Day of Remembrance for the Victims of All Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes.

To commemorate the Europe Union's Day of Remembrance for the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, President von der Leyen issued the following statement excerpted here:

“On 23 August, we honour the memory of the victims of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, in Europe and beyond. Today, on the 83rd anniversary of the signature of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, this date carries a special significance. This year, Putin brought the horrors of war back to Europe, along with the reminder that peace cannot be taken for granted.[ Rest of statement here ].

The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was named after the two signers, Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and Nazi foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. It contained secret protocols that divided Eastern and Central Europe between the two totalitarian regimes. What they called a "peace treaty"signed on August 23, 1939 started World War 2 with the invasion and conquest of Poland by the Nazis and Soviets days later in September 1939.
Czechoslovakia, a Soviet satellite since 1948, had its Prague Spring in 1968, a moment when reformers in the government sought socialism with a human face and it was ended on August 21, 1968 with the arrival of Warsaw Pact tanks on Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev's orders followed by an occupation that crushed the reformist initiative. 
Castro backed Leonid Brezhnev's invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 23, 1968
Two days after the Soviet led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 23, 1968 Fidel Castro publicly supported the invasion and occupation of the central European country.  Castro's support of Soviet imperialism on the 29th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact revealed the true nature of the regime in Cuba. 

Havana also supported the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, and the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Today let us also remember the Cubans murdered by the totalitarian dictatorship in Cuba.
This is not an exhaustive accounting.
Killing peasants who resisted
Firing squads in Cuba ordered by the Castro brothers
While Fidel Castro talked democracy in 1959 the firing squads were filmed and broadcast to terrorize the populace and consolidate control. Those who had fought by his side in good faith believing the Revolution was a struggle to restore democracy became uneasy with the course of the new regime. 
Some, like Huber Matos, Julio Ruiz Pitaluga, and Mario Chanes de Armas who spoke out spent decades in prison. Many returned to the hills of the Escambray to carry on the struggle for a democratic restoration. This resistance was crushed in 1966 after over six years with assistance from 400 Soviet counterinsurgency advisors. 

Frank Calzon writing in National Review on November 10, 1978 about the six year peasant uprising in the Escambray and numbers killed citing official and non-official sources. "Raul Castro estimated that five hundred government soldiers died in order to kill or capture 3,591 " bandits." Writing in 1971, the British historian Hugh Thomas put the total slightly higher: "Minor guerrilla skirmishing has gone on most of the time in Oriente and other mountainous districts in an unsung war; rumors abound but probably at least four thousand guerilleros have been killed since 1962."

Rafter deaths
15-year-old rafter Gregorio Perez Ricardo died of dehydration in 1991.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) reported that on October 23, 1966 a group of young Cubans tried to flee Cuba swimming from the populated coast of Caimanera to the Guantanamo naval base. The "Frontier Batallion" of the Cuban government pursued them and shot them with automatic weapons killing three of the four, of which two were identified:Pedro Baraña age 35 and Francisco Arcano Galano age 21. Their bodies were found floating in Guantánamo Bay. The same type of action was denounced in 1993 when regime officials used snipers and grenades against defenseless swimmers. 

In February of 1991 news accounts of the death by dehydration of 15-year-old Gregorio Perez Ricardo, a rafter fleeing Cuba, as U.S. Coast Guard officials tried to save his life made the news, but the question that arises is how many rafters since 1959 have perished in the straits fleeing Castroism or been murdered by Castro's border patrol? 

In the 1995 monograph, The Cuban Balseros: Voyage of Uncertainty authored by human rights expert Holly Ackerman, and sociologist Juan M. Clark and published by the Policy Center of the Cuban American National Council placed the number of balseros, Cuban boat people, to have died trying to leave Cuba in a range with an upper limit of 100,000 over the first 36 years of the Castro regime. Professor Clark, who passed away in 2013, is the author of Castro's Revolution: Myths and Reality that was published posthumously in 2016 and covered with great detail the sociological impact of Castroism on Cuba and its human cost.
There are several IACHR special reports on Cuba from 1962, 1963, 1967, 1970, 1976 , 1979 and 1983 that document extrajudicial killings in the island.
Thirty seven men, women, and children were extrajudicially executed by Cuban government agents on July 13, 1994 when the "13 de Marzo" tugboat was attacked and sunk six miles off the coast of Havana, Cuba.
On February 24, 1996 air-to-air missiles fired by a Cuban MiG-29 at 3:21 p.m. and 3:27 p.m., respectively, in international airspace destroying two civilian light aircraft extra-judicially killing Armando Alejandre Jr. (age 45), Carlos Alberto Costa ( age 29), Mario Manuel de la Peña (age 24), and Pablo Morales (age 29).  
On Sunday, July 22, 2012, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero Escalante were killed. Cuban state security bumped into the car they were driving, and when the vehicles stopped, with everyone still alive in the car, they approached the driver, striking him in the temple with the butt of a pistol. Within hours, the lifeless and brutalized bodies of both Oswaldo and Harold would appear.

Killings have continued to the present day  

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel appeared on state television after the 11J protests started on July 11, 2021 stating, “The order of combat is given, revolutionaries take to the streets.” This directive incited government security forces to commit violence against civilians. They shot and killed unarmed demonstrators.

Authorities recognized one death in these protests. Diubis Laurencio Tejeda was a 36-year-old singer who was shot in the back by the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) in Havana on July 12. There are others, but they have not been officially recognized.

Christian Díaz, age 24, disappeared after joining the protests. Relatives on July 12 reported him missing to the PNR in Cárdenas. Police told his father that Christian was jailed in Matanzas. On Aug. 5, officials informed his family he’d drowned in the sea and was buried in a mass grave. His family is convinced he was beaten to death.

Diubis Laurencio Tejeda and Christian Díaz killed in 2021.

The body count
Glenn Garvin wrote an important essay on December 1, 2016 titled "Red Ink: The high human cost of the Cuban Revolution" and in it addresses the question of how many extrajudicial executions have taken place in Cuba. This blog addressed this issue before in 2012, but Garvin adds some new and critical insights to understanding the real nature of the Castro regime.
"University of Hawaii historian R. J. Rummel, who made a career out of studying what he termed “democide,” the killing of people by their own government, reported in 1987 that credible estimates of the Castro regime’s death toll ran from 35,000 to 141,000, with a median of 73,000."

Black Ribbon Day 2022: The Hitler-Stalin Pact that started WW2 which communists want to erase.

"The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting." - Milan Kundera

Eighty three years ago on August 23, 1939 the world learned that Communist Russia and Nazi Germany had signed a non-aggression pact, the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. It was named after their respective foreign ministers, Vyacheslav Molotov and Joachim von Ribbentrop.

Observers would have been even more horrified had they known of the secret protocols that divided Eastern Europe between the two totalitarian regimes. What they called a "peace treaty" in reality was a war treaty.

Nine days later on September 1, 1939 at 4:45 am Nazi Germany invaded Poland and World War II started. 

Rolling Soviet tanks and Nazi motorcyclists in Poland (September 1939).

Sixteen days later the Soviet Union exercising its secret agreement with the Nazis invaded Poland from the East and met their German allies in the middle of Poland. 

Nazi and Soviet soldiers greet one another in Poland (1939)

On September 22, 1939 the German Nazi army joined with the Soviet Communist army in a military parade in Brest-Litovsk and the two sides celebrated together. 

Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov in a October 31, 1939  speech spoke candidly about the Nazi-Communist alliance, and ridiculed its victims.

"The ruling circles of Poland boasted quite a lot about the ‘stability’ of their state and the ‘might’ of their army. However, one swift blow to Poland, first by the German Army and then by the Red Army, and nothing was left of this ugly offspring of the Versailles Treaty which had existed by oppressing non-Polish nationalities."

Approximately 230,000 Polish soldiers and officers and thousands of military service representatives were taken captive by the Russians. The Soviet precursor to the KGB was the NKVD. "From October 1939, the delegated NKVD officials from Moscow heard the prisoners, encouraged them to cooperate and collected data. Only a few of the prisoners agreed to collaborate. The commanding officers’ reports included opinions about hostile attitudes of the Poles and a minimal chance of them being useful to the USSR authorities."

The decision to shoot the prisoners was signed on March 5, 1940 by seven members of the All- Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) authorities: Joseph Stalin, Lavrentiy Beria (proposer), Kliment Voroshilov, Vyacheslav Molotov, Anastas Mikoyan, Mikhail Kalinin and Lazar Kaganovich.  

Thousands of Polish Army officers and intellectual leaders were taken into the Katyn Forest near Smolensk in the Soviet Union, shot in the back of the head or in the neck and buried in mass graves.

Secret protocols of the Hitler-Stalin Pact not only partitioned Poland but also divided up Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Romania into Nazi and Soviet "spheres of influence." The Soviet Union invaded and annexed the Baltic States in June 1940.  

Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov meets with Adolf Hitler (1940)

Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov in a speech delivered on August 1, 1940 while the Soviet Union was then still allied with Nazi Germany continued to describe their military alliance as a "non-aggression pact."   

 "A radical change for the better in the relations between the Soviet Union and Germany found its expression in the non-aggression pact signed last August. These new, good relations between the USSR and Germany have been tested in practice in connection with events in former Poland, and their strength has been sufficiently proved."

Another sign of Nazi-Soviet cooperation was the Soviet Union’s deportation of hundreds of refugees to Nazi authorities. Most of them were German anti-fascists, communists, and Jews who had sought asylum in the Soviet Union

Soviet and Nazi soldiers fraternize in Poland. Their alliance ended 80 years ago today

This alliance ended on June 22, 1941 when Adolf Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, betraying his ally Josef Stalin.

"Stalin was shocked; he had received a plethora of warnings of an imminent invasion – notably from Winston Churchill, informed by British intelligence briefings. The communist dictator had refused to believe them," reported Agence France Press. Stalin preferred to rely on Hitler's assurances.  

Nazi Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, Joseph Stalin, and Soviet foreign minister, Molotov

Today, communist apologists will continue to defend Stalin and attempt to cover up this history of collaboration between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. It may also explain the real reason behind attacks on the legacy of Winston Churchill. His observation on the relationship between the Communists and the Nazis in his book The Second World War, Volume 1, The Gathering Storm (1948) is damning and accurate.

"Fascism was the shadow or ugly child of communism… As Fascism sprang from Communism, so Nazism developed from Fascism. Thus were set on foot those kindred movements which were destined soon to plunge the world into more hideous strife, which none can say has ended with their destruction." 

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the reckless strategy pursued by Stalin and the Communist International cost 22 to 28 million Russian lives alone in World War Two, and nearly led to the Nazi conquest and occupation of the Soviet Union.


Sunday, August 21, 2022

Castroism backs imperialism: Czechoslovakia 1968 and Ukraine 2024

Modern Soviet and Russian imperialism
Cornell University's Legal Information Institute defines imperialism as "a doctrine, political strategy, practice, state policy, or advocacy that consists in extending power by territorial acquisition or by extending political and economic control outward over other areas. Imperialism oftentimes involves the use of military and economic power, and always aims for more expansion and collective or individual domination." 

The Soviet Union expanded its empire into Central Europe in the aftermath of WW2, but its first large scale imperial expansion began in a diplomatic agreement signed with Nazi Germany on August 23, 1939 that divided up Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe into sphere's of influence by the two revolutionary regimes in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.

Despite the Soviet Union's early ideological antipathy to imperialism the revolutionary communist dictatorship began its own era of empire building between 1917 and 1921 with one of the first victims, Ukrainian independence.

Ukrainians were one of the first modern victims of famine politics. According to Felix Wemheuer, professor of Modern China Studies at the University of Cologne, in his book Famine Politics in Maoist China and the Soviet Union," during the twentieth century, 80 percent of all famine victims worldwide died in China and the Soviet Union." 
Millions starved to death under brutal famine imposed by Joseph Stalin
The planned famine in Ukraine, known as the Holodomor, took place between 1932 -1933. Millions of children died in this artificial famine. This crime was ignored by the United States as it formally recognized the Soviet Union in 1933The Economist in 2012 reported on the 80th anniversary of this man-made famine:

Holodomor literally means death by hunger. In 1932 and 1933, a vast famine in Soviet Ukraine killed three to seven million people, according to estimates. While people starved, the grain was shut away in barns for export.

Social science research has demonstrated that famines "happen only with some degree of human complicity."  Human decisions "determine whether a crisis deteriorates into a full-blown famine." What took place in Ukraine was a Soviet genocide. Cubans would play a role in another genocide in Ethiopia in the 1980s.

Invasion and Occupation as described by Czech radio with images 

Czechs nonviolently resisted the 1968 invasion of the Warsaw Pact that ended the Prague Spring

Czechoslovakia, a Soviet satellite since 1948, had its Prague Spring in 1968, a moment when reformers in the government sought socialism with a human face and it was ended 54 years ago today with the arrival of Warsaw Pact tanks on Soviet leader
Leonid Brezhnev's orders and the occupation that crushed the reformist initiative. Two days after the Soviet led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 23, 1968 Fidel Castro publicly supported the invasion and occupation of the central European country. 
Leonid Brezhnev and Fidel Castro meet.

Part of Castro's defense of the invasion and occupation of Czechoslovakia was that basic human rights standards such as freedom of expression were being re-established or in Castro's words:
"A series of slogans began to be put forward and in fact certain measures were taken such as the establishment of the bourgeois "freedom" of the press. This means that the counter-revolution and the exploiters, the very enemies of socialism, were granted the right to speak and write freely against socialism." 
This led to Carlos Franqui, one of the early backers of Fidel Castro's July 26 movement and a leader of the Revolution to break with the regime in 1968 over Castro's support of the invasion.

Revolutionary dissident figure erased for opposing Soviet imperialism

Carlos Franqui's protest of conscience would lead him to then suffer a Stalinist erasure from Cuba's revolutionary history. 
Josef Stalin had pioneered airbrushing colleagues who had fallen out of favor. Nikolai Yezhov ,a Stalin loyalist, had written the treatise that intellectually justified the need for purges in 1935 and became head of the Soviet secret police (NKVD) in 1936. He staunchly maintained that it was better for "ten innocent people to suffer than one enemy of the people to escape."
Nikolai Yezhov, erased by Josef Stalin
He presided over the execution of hundreds of thousands only to fall out of favor with Stalin in 1939 and disappeared, but unlike Franqui, not just in official photos and publications, he was never heard from again.In the picture below Nikolai Yezhov, appears next to Josef Stalin only to be airbrushed out in the picture directly below redone years later. 

In the picture below Carlos Franqui appears on the right (in the middle of the picture) and is airbrushed out of the picture on the left.
Franqui wrote a short poem about being erased that is translated and reproduced below:
I discover my photographic death.

Do I exist?

 I am a little black,
 I am a little white,

I am a little shit,

On Fidel's vest. 
Four decades later Carlos Franqui would return to the Czech Republic which he had visited in 1960 to contrast what he characterized the slave society of 1960s and the free society of today.  He offered the following description of Prague in 1960 as he lived it:
The Prague I saw in 1960 under communism was a Prague with tense, dramatic people there were many police everywhere, gross corruption on the part of the regime. I came with a delegation of journalists and went to the hotel Jalta. There was a dance and there were very pretty young Czech girls ... Most of the journalists who were with me were good dancers and they began to dance. And they were very happy because they thought they were going to have an affair with these girls. But when the dance ended at midnight the girls told them that if they wanted to go with them that it would cost them the equivalent of thirty dollars. Then, as I was the treasurer of the delegation they came to borrow the money. I said I was sorry but could not justify it and they spent all night together with these girls. These girls told them that the police gave them apartments, and that they had to deliver foreign currency to the police chief the next day, that they had to ask the foreigners questions about politics, record and then deliver them . After that we went to the shops where only Tuzex could be purchased with foreign currency and actually saw official representatives doing the currency changes.
Contrasting with what he saw on his return to Prague in 2000:
I believe that slavery affects people in many ways. In countries where there is tyranny, where communism, normally people faces are tense, everybody is worried. It is difficult to find the relaxation, people simply smiling on the streets. And of course there were some great privileges among the Communist leaders, who lived as upper hierarchy, and people who had to work and obey. Now with what I have seen I have a different impression. It is clear that the heritage communism left is difficult to overcome because it is a legacy not only material but spiritual. Communism destroys the individual. And when the individual is free it is hard to recover the idea of being free. Under communism it is as if the state was the father of all the children. Then, to change that mentality is difficult but very important. A society can progress only through the efforts of all ... in all walks of life. [...] I think it was a country with a great industrial development, with a culture with certain traditions, which despite everything communism failed to destroy. I also think that having Václav Havel as a president has contributed mightily to create a balance, to solve serious problems like the thing with Slovakia in a peaceful and civil manner.
The Castro regime's claim of "anti-imperialism" proved hollow and history demonstrated that it was conditioned upon ideology. This was witnessed with the Castro regime’s support of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, its invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
Carlos Franqui died exiled in Puerto Rico on April 16, 2010. Fidel Castro died in Cuba with his brother Raul wielding absolute power on November 25, 2016. The dictatorship in Cuba did not change, and the regime has proudly claimed to be a continuation of Fidel Castro's rule continuing a cult of personality of the dead communist despot.
Vladimir Putin and Raul Castro: close allies

The Castro regime has continued this practice to the present day with Russia's repeated aggression against its neighbors.
Vladimir Putin's attacks against Georgia in 2008Crimea in 2014 and the eight years long low intensity war in the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine, and the February 24, 2022, multi-pronged Russian invasion of Ukraine were all imperialist acts of aggression in violation of international law.

Havana backed these imperialist ventures in 20082014 and now in 2022. The Cuban dictatorship's foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez defended Putin's latest invasion of Ukraine claiming that Russia “has the right to defend itself."
Russian Soldiers of the 31st Guards Air Assault Brigade in Ukraine.
Fifty four years later and the totalitarian temptation continues to threaten free nations through academic and cultural institutions on the one hand and an ascendant communist China, and authoritarian Russia on the other, but the legacy and writings of Vaclav Havel continue to be relevant and required reading to confront dictatorships around the world.